Hello Ward 2,
What a month! Here are some highlights:
• Our motion to “Tap The Brakes” was supported at council. This motion is designed to put a pause on new residential development applications for at least the next 12 months to help us catch up to infrastructure and planning needs in the longer term.
• Council also passed a resolution to oppose sections of Bill 108 that will take planning powers away from local municipalities and allow more provincial interference in local development.
• Our local library system has worked out a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Six Nations and Brantford library systems. This means you can get library privileges at all libraries in the region. Kudos to the teams at all three library systems who worked so hard to make this much requested for service partnership happen.
• Council approved the Brant Safe Streets Traffic Calming Strategy which meets the desire from the community to help calm traffic and improve community safety. The strategy is focused on three types of interventions – enforcement, engineering and education and a news report about it can be found here: https://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/news/local-news/brant-councillors-approve-road-safety-plan
• The Mayor and our 4 Paris council members made an attempt to visit every business and organization in the Downtown Paris the day after the Downtown Paris Master Plan Open House to discuss it and other issues with local businesses. Some were missed due to operating hours etc. and we are planning a follow up on June 13th to get time with those shops we missed.
Amalgamation not supported by County of Brant Council. Strategic Partnerships, Synergies and Efficiencies Welcome.
The Mayor of Brantford has made some public pronouncements about a desire to amalgamate the City and County without discussing any of these ideas with our County Mayor or Council. County Council is unanimously against this idea. First, the premise the mayor of that community is operating on is faulty. There have been some comments that the County won’t work with the city but that just does not hold water.
We currently collaborate on over 20 committees and projects, we recently willingly agreed to work with them on some land servicing from the boundary adjustment (to their benefit), our libraries just signed a reciprocal borrowing agreement and we have money budgeted to work together on Master Transit Plans and other projects.
Our council has not seen positive collaboration occur from a “joint services committee” recently. Unfortunately this seems to be currently the preferred method the city has decided on for brokering these agreements. The last one did not serve to move shared services very far resulting in only one project, which was already on its way to completion before the committee even met.
There are other ways we can find synergies and efficiencies including helping to broker larger partnerships in the region by working with Brantford and our numerous other County neighbours, taking the politics (and rhetoric) out of it by having some staff-led initiatives which can look at ways we can partner effectively, and utilizing an ad-hoc approach when appropriate with experts from both communities (and possibly other communities) invited to help create those partnerships. This was all mentioned in the public, on-record meetings where County Council rejected the shared services motion. It was far more nuanced than some would have you believe.
Additionally, remember that the timing for a shared services committee is not ideal. While Brantford only has one member of council who is new to serving on their council our County Council has 5 brand new members still learning the ropes and all our councillors have an ambitious agenda of priorities for our community. It is not best practice to negotiate shared services in our first few months as a team with those dynamics at play for one side.
We also have 6 communities we share a border with – that is a lot of opportunity to share services and foster dynamic partnerships between and with multiple communities. It is a lot to sort through and make sure all of our neighbours work with us for the betterment of the region.
With the fiscal situation between both communities amalgamation would likely mean higher taxes for County of Brant residents at this time (we run lean) and not necessarily a commensurate increase in access and services for county residents. Even the wording of the motion from the Brantford Mayor phrased it as an opportunity for Brantford to find efficiencies but not for the residents of the County.
Hopefully we can “tap the brakes” on the rhetoric, deal with the facts and move forward together on a variety of items thoughtfully in the fullness of time. But we certainly need more time than a few months to look at the larger picture for the benefit of the entire region including ourselves and all our neighbours such as Brantford, Haldimand-Norfolk, Waterloo, Oxford, Hamilton and Six Nations.
For my part I have spoken with several Brantford council members individually to discuss this as well as a number of third party community stakeholders that work with both the County and City in an effort to seek to understand and be understood and communicate openly for the larger interest of our community and our local region.
A local resident created this petition that has been quite popular that you may also want to sign if you don’t agree with forced amalgamation: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/912/038/241/stop-the-proposed-brantford-brant-county-amalgamation/
Some quick links for your interest this month:
Downtown Paris Master Plan Documents can be found at: https://www.brant.ca/en/county-government/master-plan-for-downtown-paris.aspx
Grand River St. North Environmental Assessment Presentation Boards can be found at: https://www.brant.ca/en/county-government/resources/Environmental-Assessments/Grand-River-St.-N/GRSN-PIC-2-Exhibits-FINAL-QC.pdf
UPCOMING EVENTS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
A highlight of some of the activities I’ve attended this month beyond regular council meetings:
• Indigenous Dance Demonstration at St. James Church.
• Downtown Paris Master Plan Presentation.
• 2019 Brant Food Forum.
• 2019 Brant Accessibility Awards.
• Downtown BIA area “Walk The Talk” personally visiting 52 Downtown Paris businesses and organizations.
• Brant OPP Paris Town Hall.
• Special council forum with Grade 5 Students from North Ward School.
• Paris Lawn Bowling Club Open House.
• County of Brant Strategic Plan Council Session.
• Brant Green Drinks Community Discussion on Climate Change at Stillwaters.
• Paris Horticultural Society Plant Sale at Syl Apps.
• St. Vincent de Paul Opening Blessing Ceremony.
• Grand Opening of Paris Factory Rides.
• Grand River St. N Environmental Assessment Public Information Centre.
• Guest Speaker at Public Transit / School Transit Supervisor Conference.
• Planning Meeting with Brant Community Health Centre Volunteer Group.
• Meeting with Habitat for Humanity.
• Meeting with Brant Real Estate Association
• Meeting with Brantford-Brant Chamber of Commerce.
• Representing Brant at the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Conference with Coun. Miller.
• Review of Developmental Charges Community Stakeholder Meeting.
• Wrote the Council Update for the inaugural issue of Neighbours of Paris on the Grand magazine.